One day, we were making our way down to the boat to pull our crab pots when he saw a priest, and that was that, he wouldn’t go to sea that day. Another time we were walking along the shore in thick fog when I told him I could hear the sound of a bell out to sea. He stopped walking and grabbed my arm. “A bell,” he said, “I don’t hear it. What’s it sound like?”
“It sounds like a bell on a sea-buoy,” I said.
“There are no sea-buoys out there,” he squeaked, “it means someone’s going to die …”
There was no fishing that day, either.
One argument we had (of many) was over the color we should paint the boat. I suggested dark green. I thought my partner was going to hit me. “Dark green is the most unlucky color on a boat,” he bawled.
“What about the New England fishing boats?” Lots of them are dark green,” I protested.
“Idiots,” he replied.
Things came to a head when we went sailing together. We were taking part in a race in the English Channel. I didn’t know much about racing back then and I thought we were doing rather well. My fishing partner said our performance was abysmal, although those were not the words he used, and he blamed our predicament on the fact we had two women onboard. Shortly after this discussion, the wind died and we found ourselves becalmed.
My buddy called me to the foredeck, out of earshot of the crew. He told me he knew how to bring the wind back, and I thought he was going to suggest we throw the women overboard. But it was worse than that, he asked me for money.
Now I’m a Yorkshire man and very careful with my cash, but I thought I had better humor him.
I pulled my wallet out of my pocket and he produced a shilling out of his. I had no change but his eyes lit up when he saw a ten pound note hanging out of my billfold. Without asking, he grabbed the note and before I could stop him, wrapped it around the shilling and threw it as far into the sea as he could.
“What the …” I sputtered.
“Buying wind from the direction I tossed the cash,” he said.
I went down below to sulk.
Fifteen minutes later the wind came up, ten pounds one shilling’s worth, strong, steady and from the right direction. We went on to win the race and there was much talk at the yacht club about how we were the only yacht that found wind.